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Moscow says Belgian defense minister tries to distract attention from Hassadjek attack

October 21, 2016, 15:04 UTC+3

The Russian Defense Ministry has called on Belgium to conduct a transparent and impartial investigation of the airstrike on the Syrian village of Hassadjek

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Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput

Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput

© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry has called on Belgium to conduct a transparent and impartial investigation of the airstrike on the Syrian village of Hassadjek, requesting the necessary data from the US, the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday.

"If the Belgian authorities are really willing to sort out their Air Force’s actions and identify those responsible for the bombing of the Kurdish village of Hassadjek, then they should conduct a transparent and impartial investigation that will involve requesting the air situation data from their US allies," he said.

According to Konashenkov, Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput is trying to distract attention from the Hassadjek tragedy using "knowingly negligible" excuses.

"The attempts by the head of the Belgian Defense Ministry to distract the public’s attention from the tragedy, using statements knowingly negligible for any professional cause deep bewilderment. This speaks either about either Mr. Vandeput’s misunderstanding of the document handed over by the Russian side or the desire of the US Armed Forces Central Command responsible for the issuance of target acquisition data to aircraft of the international coalition in Syria to get away from responsibility for the death of six Syrian civilians," Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov pointed out that Russia’s Defense Ministry had already provided a "per minute report of the Belgian fighter jets actions on October 18, from taking off to landing."

On October 18, Russia’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria reported that six people had been killed and four wounded in an airstrike on the Hassadjek village near Aleppo. The Russian Aerospace Force and Syrian Air Force aircraft were not conducting any missions in this area on that day, in contrast, Belgian fighter jets had been detected. Belgium’s Defense Minister Steven Vandeput later stated that the country’s Air Force had not delivered any airstrikes on civilian targets in the vicinity of Aleppo that day.

On Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry put forward its data saying that two Belgian F-16 fighter jets had taken off from an airfield in Jordan on October 18 and had been refueled twice by a US aircraft. The ministry said the data would be forwarded to Belgium. After that the Belgian Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying the numbers on the aircraft provided by Russia’s Defense Ministry were not Belgian.

Six Belgian F-16 fighter jets joined the US-led coalition active in Syria since this July. As the Belgian Ministry of Defense announced earlier, they "they have been conducting a full range of military operations."

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